Lawrence set to carry the torch

Lawrence Page, with his marathon medals and Hastings firefighters
Lawrence Page, with his marathon medals and Hastings firefighters

LAWRENCE Page won the hearts of firefighters at Bohemia Road station, who nominated him as an Olympic torch bearer.

He has been selected and will carry the torch part of the way through St Leonards on July 17 – a day after his birthday.

Twenty-five years ago, Lawrence, who has learning difficulties, walked into the Hastings Community Fire Station and offered his voluntary services to wash service vehicles and fire engines.

Since then he has turned up every Saturday to help out and become a firm favourite with the crews.

Lawrence, 45, holds down two jobs, one at a timber yard and one working on a farm, and is a big personality known to many in the town. When asked about Lawrence’s good qualities, his dad Jim said: “Resilience for a start, good manners, politeness, which just goes to show that you should never judge a book by its cover.”

Lawrence also has a vast collection of marathon medals to his name, at the age of 18, became one of the first people in the country with learning difficulties to run a marathon. He went on to run marathons all over the world, becoming a mascot and ambassador for Hastings firefighters at the same time, and collecting five gold medals and four silver medals to his name from competing in what was called the ‘Special Olympics’.

Lawrence even saved another man’s life while running the Oslo marathon. Jim, who formed the charity the ‘Friends of The Conquest’ and is a founder member of Hastings Runners, said: “In Norway Lawrence became quite a hero.

“I took three lads with learning difficulties over there to run in the Oslo marathon and one had an epileptic fit half way through.

“Lawrence stopped running, put him in the recovery position, ensured he hadn’t swallowed his tongue and then ran to the paramedics. Lawrence then carried on running and was the last one in. Everyone in the stadium stayed there to wait for him and gave him a rapturous round of applause.”